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Why You Eat When You’re Not Hungry

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

Brownies on plates

The urge to eat can feel so overpowering.

We’ve often made our way to food before we’ve really had a chance to understand, let alone see, that there is something driving us to food that isn’t hunger.

Here, I unpack the 4 biggest reasons why you eat when you’re not hungry and the solution to each so you can have greater freedom and peace with food.


Chronic dieting and restricting food can prevent us from recognizing and listening to our hunger and satiety signals, over time our bodies signals become more subtle and these signals become faint whispers. When this happens we rely on other signals to determine when or how much we eat such as time of day, rigid food rules or other cravings such as emotional.


For two weeks, eat three small meals and two small snacks at regular times, regardless if you are hunger, don’t worry this is only temporary. This will help make your signals more present. Then allow these signals to guide you to eat.


Simplified, the science of habits lies in the three R’s: reminder, routine, reward. Habits are formed when this sequence is repeated overtime, essentially a neural circuit is formed. A strong desire to eat can be related to satisfying your brain’s need for dopamine (a powerful pleasure feeling chemical). Certain manufactured foods are specifically designed with the perfect mixture of sugar, fat and salt to hit this spot. In food product development this spot is called the bliss point. A strong desire to eat can be our brains need to complete the neural circuit.